database is a comprehensive collection of all the American idioms and slang available.
American Idioms are many and varied. We hope you enjoy our collection. We are adding more all the time.
|Absence makes the heart grow fonder.|
What does "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." mean?
|Our feeling for those we love increases when we are
apart from them.||"Cheer up Dude, everybody knows that absence makes the heart grow fonder."|
In 1604, Shakespeare echoed this sentiment in "Othello" (Act 1, scene ii), when Desdemona confessed, "I dote upon his very absence." James Howell, in "Familiar Letters" (1650) says that, "Distance sometimes endears friendship, and absence sweeteneth it."
There are other references to this proverb in literature, but it was originally the first line of an anonymous poem which appeared in Davison's "Poetical Rhapsody" in 1602.
|Armed to the teeth|
What does "Armed to the teeth" mean?
|To be heavily armed.||Don't even think about going into Chicago's housing projects unless you are armed to the teeth.|
This is a pirate phrase originating in Port Royal Jamaica in the 1600's. Having only single shot black powder weapons and cutlesses, they would carry many of these weapons at once to keep up the fight.
In addition they carried a knife in their teeth for maximum arms capability.
|A Burnt Child Dreads the Fire|
What does "A Burnt Child Dreads the Fire" mean?
|One does not repeat a painful lesson twice.||I've tried to get little Johnny to quit running and jumping on the furniture before he hurts himself, but only a burnt child dreads the fire.|
Very similar in meaning to another proverb, "Once bitten, twice shy," today's proverb is an old one. It appeared in English literature as early as 1320, in "The Proverbs of Hendyng." Another proverb, which is similar, comes from the French: "A scalded dog fears cold water" carries an even stronger message; that those who have experienced a great deal of difficulty or pain will not only avoid it in the future, but will be afraid even where there is no cause.
Other languages also have like proverbs, such as, "One bitten by a serpent is afraid of a rope's end" (Jewish), "A man who has received a beating with a firebrand runs away at the sight of a firefly" (Singhalese), and "A dog which has been beaten with a stick fears its own shadow" (Italian).
|At the eleventh hour|
What does "At the eleventh hour" mean?
|At the very last moment.||The union negotiator went right down to the eleventh hour before accepting the company's final offer.|
On a 12-hour clock (rather than the 24-hour clock used by scientists, the military, et al) the hours of 12 noon and 12 midnight seem to hold special significance. De-marking the transition from morning to afternoon and the end of the day, they are often used as deadlines (high noon, the stroke of midnight).
To come at "the eleventh hour" implies that it comes in the last hour before the deadline. The choice of "the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" as the time to end W.W.I was quite apt.
What does "ace" mean?
| make an "A" on a test, homework assignment, project,
etc.||"Somebody said you aced the test, John. That's great!"|
|all right (1)|
What does "all right (1)" mean?
| (1): expression of reluctant agreement.||A: "Come to the party with me. Please!"B: "Oh, all right. I don't want to, but I will."|
|all right (2)|
What does "all right (2)" mean?
| (2): fair; not particularly good.||A: "How's your chemistry class?"B: "It's all right, I guess, but it's not the best class I'veever had."|
|all right (3)|
What does "all right (3)" mean?
| (3): unharmed; in satisfactory condition.||A: "You don't look normal. Are you allright?"B: "Yes, but I have a headache."|
|and then some|
What does "and then some" mean?
| and much more besides.||A: "I'd guess your new computer cost about $2,000."B: "It cost that much and then some because I also boughtextra RAM and VRAM."|
What does "antsy" mean?
|: restless; impatient and tired of waiting.||"I hope Katy calls soon. Just sitting around andwaiting is making me antsy."|
|as easy as pie|
What does "as easy as pie" mean?
|: very easy.||"I thought you said this was a difficult problem. Itisn't. In fact, it's as easy as pie."|
|at the eleventh hour|
What does "at the eleventh hour" mean?
|at the last minute; almost too late.||"Yes, I got the work done in time. I finished it at the eleventh hour, but I wasn't late.|
What does "a bundle" mean?
|: a lot of money.||A: "Your new car is really nice."B: "It should be. It cost me a bundle!"|
What does "a cinch" mean?
| something that's very easy to do.||A: How was the test?B: It was a cinch. I finished it quickly and I know that allmy answers were correct."|
|an eager beaver|
What does "an eager beaver" mean?
|a person who is always willing to
volunteer or do extra work.||"Jan is certainly an eager beaver. Anytime there's work to be done,she's the first to say she'll help."|
What does "an egghead" mean?
|a very intelligent person. ||"Jake didn't make very good grades in school,but his sister was a real egghead."|
|a (real) go-getter|
What does "a (real) go-getter" mean?
| a (very) ambitious, hard-working
person.||"I'm not surprised that Jean finished before anyoneelse. She's a real go-getter." |
What does "a klutz" mean?
| an awkward, uncoordinated person.||"Don't ask Jeff to dance with you. He's a realklutz and will probably step on your feet!"|
What does "a know-it-all" mean?
| someone who acts as if he/she knows
everything--as if no one|
can tell him/her anything that he/she doesn't already know.
|"Don't try to make any suggestions to Bob. He's aknow-it-all and won't pay attention to anything you say."|
What does "a let-down" mean?
| a disappointment; something that's very
disappointing. ||"It must've been quite a let-down not to bechosen for that job. I know you really hoped you would get it."|
|a low blow|
What does "a low blow" mean?
| a big disappointment. ||A: "Fred seems depressed. Is he OK?" B: "He's OK, but not good. It was a low blow for him to belaid off from his job."|
|a quick study|
What does "a quick study" mean?
| someone who learns new things quickly and
easily.||A: "Annie seems to be doing well at her new job."B: "I'm not surprised. She's a quick study."|
What does "a snap" mean?
| something that's very easy to do. ||A: "Is your job difficult?"B: "No, actually it's a snap. In fact, it's so easy that it'sa little bit boring."|
What does "a tightwad" mean?
|: someone who is very frugal and unwilling
to spend money unnecessarily.|| A: Will Charlie donate any money to the activities fund? B: Absolutely not! He's a real tightwad!"|
|a white lie|
What does "a white lie" mean?
| a lie that is told to avoid offending someone
or hurting his / her feelings.|| "The cake that Susan made tasted terrible, but I knew that|
she made it because she wanted to please me, so when she
asked if I liked it, I told a white lie and said it was good."
What does "a yes-man" mean?
|: someone who tries to get approval by agreeing
with everyone.||A: "Why does the boss think Arnold is sointelligent?"B: "Because Arnold is a yes-man. He agrees with everything theboss says!"|
|abide by (something)|
What does "abide by (something)" mean?
| to follow the rules of something||The cleaning staff were forced to abide by the rules of the school.|
|able to breathe easily again|
What does "able to breathe easily again" mean?
| to be able to relax and recover from a stressful time||My friend was able to breathe easily again when his company did not go out of business.|
|able to do (something) blindfolded|
What does "able to do (something) blindfolded" mean?
| to be able to do something easily and quickly||The car was easy to fix and we were able to do it blindfolded.|
|able to do (something) standing on one's head|
What does "able to do (something) standing on one's head" mean?
| to be able to do something easily and quickly||The boy is good at fixing his bicycle and he can do it standing on his head.|
|able to take a joke|
What does "able to take a joke" mean?
| to be able to let others laugh and joke about you||Our boss is not able to take a joke and we must be careful what we say to him.|
What does "about time" mean?
| to be something that should have happened earlier ||"It is about time that you returned that book to me."|
|about to (do something)|
What does "about to (do something)" mean?
| to be on the point of doing something||She was about to leave when the phone rang.|
|above and beyond|
What does "above and beyond" mean?
| to be more than is required||The work that the man did on our house was above and beyond what was required.|
What does "above reproach" mean?
| to be not deserving of blame or criticism||The actions of the police officer were above reproach.|
What does "above suspicion" mean?
| to be very honest so that nobody would suspect you||The man's actions are always above suspicion.|
What does "absent-minded" mean?
| to be forgetful||My grandfather is very absent-minded and often forgets his keys.|
|according to Hoyle|
What does "according to Hoyle" mean?
| doing something strictly by the rules, doing something the usual and correct way||According to Hoyle we are not allowed to use this room but if nobody knows it should be okay. |
|according to (someone or something)|
What does "according to (someone or something)" mean?
| as said or told by someone, in agreement with something, in the order of something, in proportion to something||According to our teacher, there will be no class next week.|
What does "acid test" mean?
| a test where the conclusions are beyond doubt||The problem was an acid test of our faith in the manager.|
|acquire a taste for (something)|
What does "acquire a taste for (something)" mean?
| to learn to like something||We acquired a taste for classical music during our trip to Europe.|
|across the board|
What does "across the board" mean?
| equally for everyone or everything||The taxes were increased across the board and everyone had to pay more.|
|act high and mighty|
What does "act high and mighty" mean?
| to act proud and powerful||The woman always acts high and mighty and nobody likes her.|
|act one's age|
What does "act one's age" mean?
| to behave as a mature person or at least to behave equal to one's age||My friend never acts her age in public.|
What does "act up" mean?
| to misbehave||The children began to act up during the field trip.|
|add fuel to the fire|
What does "add fuel to the fire" mean?
| to make a problem worse, to make an angry person angrier||The company added fuel to the fire when they criticized the angry workers.|
|add insult to injury|
What does "add insult to injury" mean?
| to make a person who feels bad feel worse, to make a bad situation worse||Our boss added insult to injury when she refused to let us use the telephone as well as the computers during lunch.|
What does "add up" mean?
| to total up to a certain amount||I began to add up the money that I owed my father.|
|add up (to something)|
What does "add up (to something)" mean?
| to mean something, to result in something||The things that he said about his boss do not add up.|
|advise against (something)|
What does "advise against (something)" mean?
| to suggest that something should not be done||We were advised against swimming in the river.|
|afraid of one's own shadow|
What does "afraid of one's own shadow" mean?
| to become frightened easily||The small dog is afraid of his own shadow.|
|after a fashion|
What does "after a fashion" mean?
| poorly, barely adequate||The cleaning staff cleaned the room after a fashion but certainly not very well.|
What does "after all" mean?
| in spite of what has been decided||I decided to take the swimming course after all.|
What does "after all" mean?
| considering the fact that something happened or is usually assumed||"You don't need to phone him. After all, he never phones you."|
|after all is said and done|
What does "after all is said and done" mean?
| finally, when everything is settled||After all is said and done the mayor of our city is doing a very good job.|
What does "after hours" mean?
| after the regular closing or finishing time||The library has a place to leave books after hours.|
|after the fact|
What does "after the fact" mean?
| after something (often a crime) has happened||Although the man said he was sorry, it was after the fact and he had already caused a big problem.|
|against one's will|
What does "against one's will" mean?
| to be without a person's consent or agreement||The police took the man to jail against his will.|
|against the clock|
What does "against the clock" mean?
| to be in a hurry to do something before a particular time||We worked against the clock to finish the project.|
|ahead of one's time|
What does "ahead of one's time" mean?
| to have ideas or attitudes that are more advanced than those of others||The ideas of the politician were very much ahead of his time.|
|ahead of the game|
What does "ahead of the game" mean?
| to do more than necessary||We worked hard all week in order to be ahead of the game on Monday morning.|
|ahead of time|
What does "ahead of time" mean?
| early||We started the meeting ahead of time so that we could go home early. |
|air one`s dirty laundry/linen in public|
What does "air one`s dirty laundry/linen in public" mean?
| to make public something embarrassing that should be kept secret||The dinner party became uncomfortable when the host began to air his colleague's dirty laundry in public.|
|air one's grievances|
What does "air one's grievances" mean?
| to complain (often publicly)||We spent the meeting airing our grievances to the new supervisor.|
|air (something) out|
What does "air (something) out" mean?
| to freshen something by putting it out in the open air||We put the blankets outside in order to air them out.|
|alive and well/kicking|
What does "alive and well/kicking" mean?
| to be well and healthy||My aunt is 87 years old and she is very much alive and kicking.|
What does "all along" mean?
| all the time||I knew all along that my friend would not get the promotion.|
|all at once|
What does "all at once" mean?
| suddenly, without warning ||All at once the fire alarm rang and we had to leave the building. |
|all day long|
What does "all day long" mean?
| the whole day||She has been sitting and waiting for the mail to arrive all day long. |
What does "all ears" mean?
| to be eager to listen to someone||"I`m all ears, please tell me about the party."|
|all for (someone or something)|
What does "all for (someone or something)" mean?
| to be very much in favor of someone or something||The woman is all for the manager and she never criticizes her.|
What does "all in" mean?
| to be tired, to be exhausted||I am all in and will go to bed early tonight.|
|all in a day's work|
What does "all in a day's work" mean?
| to be part of what is expected||It was all in a day's work when the firefighters rescued the cat.|
|all in all|
What does "all in all" mean?
| in summary, after considering everything||We had a few problems but all in all the meeting was successful.|
|all in one piece|
What does "all in one piece" mean?
| safely, without damage||When we moved, our furniture arrived all in one piece.|
|all manner of (someone or something)|
What does "all manner of (someone or something)" mean?
| all types of people or things||There were all manner of people at the party.|
|all night long|
What does "all night long" mean?
| throughout the whole night||We could hear the people next door talking all night long.|
|all of a sudden|
What does "all of a sudden" mean?
| suddenly, without advance warning||All of a sudden it became cloudy and began to rain.|
What does "all-out-effort" mean?
| a very good and thorough effort||We made an all-out-effort to finish our work.|
|all over but the shouting|
What does "all over but the shouting" mean?
| to be decided and finished||It was all over but the shouting for the football fans when their team moved to another city.|
|all over the place|
What does "all over the place" mean?
| everywhere||We travelled all over the place on our holiday.|
What does "all right" mean?
| okay, satisfactory||She said that it would be all right for me to bring my friend to the party.|
What does "all set" mean?
| to be ready to begin, to be okay||Everything was all set when the meeting began.|
|all sweetness and light|
What does "all sweetness and light" mean?
| to be very sweet, to be innocent and helpful||The girl is all sweetness and light whenever she does something bad.|
|all systems go|
What does "all systems go" mean?
| everything is ready (originally used when a rocket was launched)||It was all systems go so we began the installation of the new computer system.|
|all talk (and no action)|
What does "all talk (and no action)" mean?
| to talk about doing something but never really do it||Our boss was all talk and no action and nothing new was ever done in our department.|
|all the rage|
What does "all the rage" mean?
| to be in current fashion||The new sneakers were all the rage during the summer.|
|all the time|
What does "all the time" mean?
| continually||My sister asks for money all the time but I do not like to give it to her. |
What does "all thumbs" mean?
| to have difficulty fixing things or working with one`s hands, to be clumsy||My friend is all thumbs when fixing things around his house.|
|all to the good|
What does "all to the good" mean?
| for the best, for one's benefit||It was all to the good that my sister left her job.|
What does "all told" mean?
| including everything/everyone, totaled up||All told, there were at least twelve candidates for the job.|
|allow for (someone or something)|
What does "allow for (someone or something)" mean?
| to plan to have enough of something, to plan on the possibility of something||We must allow for enough time to go to the stadium.|
|along with (someone or something)|
What does "along with (someone or something)" mean?
| in addition to someone or something||I went to the concert along with my friend.|
|amount to (something)|
What does "amount to (something)" mean?
| to become successful||The boy will never amount to anything if he does not change his behavior.|
|amount to the same thing|
What does "amount to the same thing" mean?
| to be the same or have the same effect as something||Going by taxi or bus amounts to the same thing. We are still going to be late for the concert.|
|an arm and a leg|
What does "an arm and a leg" mean?
| (to cost) a large amount of money||His new car cost him an arm and a leg. |
|answer to (someone)|
What does "answer to (someone)" mean?
| to explain or justify one's actions to someone||The manager had to answer to the company president about the problems in the office.|
|any number of (someone or something)|
What does "any number of (someone or something)" mean?
| a sufficiently large number||I had any number of reasons not to buy the computer.|
|appear out of nowhere|
What does "appear out of nowhere" mean?
| to appear suddenly, to appear without warning||The dog appeared out of nowhere during our walk on the beach.|
|apple of (someone`s) eye|
What does "apple of (someone`s) eye" mean?
| to be someone`s favorite||His youngest daughter is the apple of his eye. |
|argue for the sake of arguing/argument|
What does "argue for the sake of arguing/argument" mean?
| to argue only to be different and to not agree||My friend's brother always argues for the sake of arguing.|
|arm in arm|
What does "arm in arm" mean?
| to be linked together by the arms||The young girls walked arm in arm to school.|
|armed and dangerous|
What does "armed and dangerous" mean?
| to have a weapon that may be used (usually by a suspected criminal)||The criminal was armed and dangerous when the police arrested him.|
|armed to the teeth|
What does "armed to the teeth" mean?
| to be armed with many weapons||The police were armed to the teeth during the drug raid.|
|around the clock|
What does "around the clock" mean?
| all day and all night||We worked around the clock to get the store ready to open.|
|arrive on the scene|
What does "arrive on the scene" mean?
| to appear in a certain place||When the fire department arrived on the scene the fire was almost out.|
|as a last resort|
What does "as a last resort" mean?
| if everything else fails||As a last resort we decided to borrow some money from my father to buy the car.|
|as a matter of fact|
What does "as a matter of fact" mean?
| actually||As a matter of fact we have been to the history museum many times.|
|as a result of (something)|
What does "as a result of (something)" mean?
| because of something that has happened||As a result of the car accident my friend could not work for several months.|
|as a rule|
What does "as a rule" mean?
| usually, as a habit||As a rule I get up at 7:00 every morning.|
|as far as|
What does "as far as" mean?
| to the extent or degree of something||As far as I know the movie will start in a few minutes. |
|as far as possible|
What does "as far as possible" mean?
| as much as possible||We went as far as possible with the project before we had to stop.|
|as good as one's word|
What does "as good as one's word" mean?
| to be dependable in keeping one's promises||My friend is always as good as his word and you can always trust him.|
What does "as if" mean?
| in the same way that something would be, that||The drink tastes as if it were made with orange juice.|
|as long as|
What does "as long as" mean?
| provided that, on condition that||"As long as you promise to be careful you can borrow my car." |
|as luck would have it|
What does "as luck would have it" mean?
| by chance||As luck would have it I was able to borrow some clothes to wear to the party.|
What does "as one" mean?
| as if a group were one person||The crowd stood up as one and began to cheer for the team.|
|as soon as|
What does "as soon as" mean?
| just after something, when||I phoned my friend as soon as I finished dinner.|
What does "as such" mean?
| the way something is||"As such, I will not be able to approve your application for a loan."|
|as the crow flies|
What does "as the crow flies" mean?
| by the most direct way, along a straight line between two places||As the crow flies, it is about 6 kilometers between my house and my office.|
What does "as to" mean?
| with regard to, according to||"As to your question, I will answer it tomorrow."|
What does "as usual" mean?
| most of the time, following the usual pattern||As usual, the girl forgot to bring her book to class.|
What does "as well" mean?
| in addition, also, too||I plan to take a computer course this summer as well.|
|as well as|
What does "as well as" mean?
| in addition to||"Please bring your swimming suit as well as your towel."|
What does "as yet" mean?
| until now, up to the present||As yet, our secretary has not told us about her plans to leave the company.|
|ask for the moon|
What does "ask for the moon" mean?
| to ask for too much||The woman asks for the moon but is never able to get what she wants.|
|ask for trouble|
What does "ask for trouble" mean?
| to behave in a way that trouble is likely||The boy is asking for trouble if he misses another class. |
|ask (someone) out|
What does "ask (someone) out" mean?
| to ask a person for a date||My friend finally asked out the woman at the bank.|
|asleep at the switch|
What does "asleep at the switch" mean?
| to not be alert to an opportunity||I think I was asleep at the switch. I did not know that the job was available so I never applied for it.|
|assault and battery|
What does "assault and battery" mean?
| a criminal charge where one violently attacks and beats someone||The man was arrested for assault and battery after the fight outside of the store.|
|at a loss|
What does "at a loss" mean?
| to be in a state of uncertainity or bewilderment||We were at a loss about what to do with the computer that was having problems.|
|at a loss (for words)|
What does "at a loss (for words)" mean?
| to be speechless, to be unable to speak||I was at a loss for words when I finally saw my mother after several years.|
|at a sitting|
What does "at a sitting" mean?
| at one time||We finished all of the food at a sitting.|
|at a stretch|
What does "at a stretch" mean?
| continuously||My friend sometimes works for three weeks at a stretch.|
|at all costs|
What does "at all costs" mean?
| no matter what, regardless of the cost or difficulty||The company decided to protect their market share at all costs.|
|at any rate|
What does "at any rate" mean?
| anyway||"At any rate whether you go or not, I am not going."|
What does "at bay" mean?
| at a distance||We were able to keep the dog at bay when we entered the building.|
What does "at best" mean?
| as the best one can say, in the best view||The doctors told the man that he had ten months at best to live.|
What does "at cross-purposes" mean?
| to have opposite ways to do something, to have opposing goals||They are at cross purposes and are always arguing about what to do.|
|at death's door|
What does "at death's door" mean?
| to be near death||The young woman was at death's door after the accident.|
What does "at ease" mean?
| to be relaxed and comfortable||The team felt at ease after the coach talked to them.|
|at every turn|
What does "at every turn" mean?
| everywhere one looks||There was a tour group at every turn when we visited Rome.|
|at face value|
What does "at face value" mean?
| from outward appearances||The antique table is worth very little money at face value.|
What does "at fault" mean?
| to be responsible or to be to blame for something||The truck driver was at fault for the terrible accident.|
What does "at first" mean?
| at the beginning||At first I did not want to go to a movie but later I changed my mind.|
|at first blush|
What does "at first blush" mean?
| when first seen, without careful study||At first blush the man seemed like a good worker but later we had many problems with him.|
What does "at hand" mean?
| to be close by||I stopped working because I did not have any good tools at hand.|
What does "at heart" mean?
| basically, fundamentally||She is a very nice person at heart although many people dislike her. |
What does "at home" mean?
| to be in one`s house||"I`m sorry but I left my money at home. Can you lend me some money?"|
|at it again|
What does "at it again" mean?
| to be doing something again||The two boys were at it again and we could hear them fighting.|